Listenin' to Jazz and Conversation

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Lonson, Sep 1, 2016.

  1. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    The DVD Version issued by Criterion (at least the most recent edition on Blu-ray) has an interesting bonus clip showing Miles improvising the score while viewing the film. The take in this clip is actually a second take shot for a documentary, immediately after Miles had actually improvised the score in the same manner. It lasts just a few minutes, but is riveting. It has close-ups of Miles face and fingering on the trumpet.

    Of course, this method was not new at all. It is how the live music accompaniment to ALL silent films was done for about 20 years. When they used live orchestras, there may have been a score, but the conductor did his work as he viewed the film, and the orchestra members had to have some skill to improvise within some boundaries. When films in the 1920's were changing twice a week in the grand movie palaces (all with an orchestra pit), the need for spontaneity by musicians, arrangers, composers and conductors was very demanding. I believe the movie palaces in the bigger cities often used orchestras, while smaller cities and towns used a pianist or "theater organ" player who had to have a great reserve of themes and the ability to improvise. They did not have the luxury of previously viewing the film before creating the improvised score as Miles did for this effort. The second and third nights in a 1920's film presentation had different accompaniment by the pianist/organist for sure.

    One of the greatest improvising theater organists (theater organs include a grand piano in the walls of the theater!), Alan Mills (RIP), once lived in my town, and would perform regularly to silent films in one of the last surviving grand theaters of the 1920's. His musical interpretation of the great masterpiece "Metropolis" was far better than any prepared score issued on any DVD, and it was completely improvised.

    There was definitely a lot more work for professional musicians in the 1920's than today, even though our population has more than tripled. Every major theater had an orchestra, every hotel and most restaurants had a band, and the larger ones all had an orchestra. Every radio station had several bands and orchestras. Multi-tracking recording has reduced the number of recording studio musicians. It is possible that there are more musicians overall today (with the tripled population), but far fewer of them are professionals supporting a household.

    The instruments played by these musicians of the 192os can be found in poor condition, decorating the walls of chain restaurants across this nation. Or they were melted down in the recycling efforts of World War II.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  2. DTK

    DTK Forum Resident

    Very interesting, thanks.
  3. Six String

    Six String Senior Member

    I love all those albums you mentioned and I've owned them for decades. I am just not moved by I'm An Old Cowhand.
    His pre-Bridge music is uniformally great minus that one. I haven't heard WOW in over a decade I'm sure. Probably longer than that. I am never opposed to re-examining old albums but as of yet I have not been curious of doing that with WOW. Maybe some day. I know it's a favorite for many fans of Sonny, just not this one.

    NP Horace Parlan - On The Spur Of The Moment (Blue Note) Music Matters 45 RPM Pressing
    This is an upgrade for me. I have a Toshiba -EMI lp I think is a 1980s reissue. It sold for ¥1200 at the time, a real bargain in today's money. I like albums with the Turrentin brothers on them. There aren't a lot out there.

    Edit: Forgot to add that I saw a good trio tonight, the John Bonn Trio at the local cafe I go to on Mondays. Soprano and alto sax (think Ornette), bass and drums. The bass player sometimes remnds me of Dave Holland's approach to playing and the drummer, an unknown to me was pretty ferocious on the drums. Like a baby Tony Williams. It would have been painful to have the real deal in that small space. I've sat that close to Tony Williams before. :yikes:
    They played an hour or so of improv, about five or six songs. It was raining a bit when I left and glad I didn't discourage me from going. The opening duo of flutes and reed instruments from all over the world with a couple of Celtic songs with vocals was interesting but not as compelling to me as John Bonn.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  4. markp

    markp I am always thinking about Jazz.

    Wynton and Branford were very, very outspoken in their early years. Branford is still quite direct in his opinions. Their frankness, combined with Wynton's remarks about what is jazz and what isn't, plus some cheap shots at Miles Davis (now tempered) created a reputation. Don't let the reputation scare you off their music.

    Wynton and Branford Marsalis are two of my favorite Jazz Musicians, especially Branford. I am 1 or 2 years younger than Wynton and Branford. One night in the early/mid 1980's, I saw Wynton perform a classical piece, and then a jazz number, during the Grammy awards show. I was so impressed by this young guy about my age, that he could play both styles of music with aplomb. I had 4 or 5 jazz albums then...just beginning my jazz journey.

    I've pretty much been buying all of Branford's albums as they have been released, and many of Wynton's for 30+ years now. Those albums are a soundtrack to my life. A couple of the first jazz shows I saw were Wynton at George's, a club in Chicago in 1989, and Branford at Ravinia in 1989. I've seen Wynton 5-10 times over the years, and Branford about 15 times.

    I'd recommend Wynton's album Black Codes from the Underground, which features Branford and Kenny Kirkland, and also Live from Blues Alley. Branford's top album, IMO is Crazy People Music, and I'd throw in Trio Jeepy (with Milt Hinton) and Four MF"s Playin' Tunes.

    Wynton has was a key person in getting Jazz at Lincoln center started, funded, and into a magnificent location. Plus Wynton has devoted a lot of time to jazz education, playing with young musicians in cities while on tour. He really has given a lot to the music.
  5. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly...

    Big Floyd fan here myself and, yeah, I hear a lot of jazz in Richard Wright's playing- much moreso than other Prog keyboardists like, say, Tony Banks or Rick Wakeman. Two great examples of Richard's jazz playing off the top of my head are "San Tropez" and the intro to "Sheep". Hell, that intro to "Sheep" could very well be how I fell in love with the sound of the Fender Rhodes:righton:
    Ha! Filles was a sober Discogs purchase for me last week:laugh: Cover and vinyl are probably VG at best, but the LP sounds better than it looks.
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  6. Six String

    Six String Senior Member

    I like those early Wynton albums as well. Any with Kenny Kirkland are worth checking out imo. He left us way too soon. Tragic.
  7. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    A Japanese critique, great Shoichi Yui, once wrote that if you are a jazz beginner and collecting Sonny Rollins albums, Saxophone Colossus and Way Out West are essential, but you can do without the others since you will buy the albums by Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk with Rollins anyway.

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  8. Lonson

    Lonson An Old Disestablishmentarianismist Thread Starter

    The album that started it all for me, heard it in '72 or so and it started me out on my Miles and then jazz journey.
  9. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

  10. xybert

    xybert Forum Resident

    Denny Zeitlin - Cathexis

    Had a massive ‘this is the best thing ever’ burst of enthusiasm for Zeitlin when i discovered him a few years ago, but it kind of faded and he never really entered my regular rotation. I’ve found it hard to find my way back in, almost always take his albums off after listening to a couple of songs.

    Tonight, however, this is hitting the spot big time. Back in the mood i guess.

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  11. Yesternow

    Yesternow Forum Resident

    Boy, what a beating I took for that 80s jazz post. Learned a lot from your answers, and I'll check some of those examples you gave (@chervokas and others).
    That's what I love about this thread - the discussion/conversation factor.
    Not agreeing on every subject and not having the same tastes enriches the thread (IMO).

    As a consequence I'm playing this one today - my favorite 80s jazz album (actually one of my all time favorites):
    Got that one as part of the ECM touchstones series. Good price, but awful packaging - and I'm not even one of those guys that hate digipacks.

    Sound is exceptional, as for most of ECM CDs. As for the playing...
    I guess Dave followed Miles example on this one. Once the top was reached he moved on to something else despite the success. To bad that it just took one album to reach the top.

    Dave Holland proves that he's a hell of a composition writer. And I was amazed with the technics the other guys displayed on their playing.
    Check the complexity and beauty of the track "The Oracle" to see what I'm talking about.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  12. Mook

    Mook Forum Resident

    Thanks for the response, I'll check those albums out.
  13. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I love that "Old Cowhand," in fact I love the whole albums. It's quintessential Sonny Rollins -- bristling with imagination, out of the box song selection. But I think the album wound up a favorite among audiophiles not so much for the music but because it's an early true stereo recording with the most minimalist of setup by Roy Dunann with condenser mics directly feeding the tape machine. It has maybe the best bass sound of any jazz bass recorded in the decade. It has all that non-musical detail that audiophiles love -- Sonny spinning off mic routinely, etc., you can kinds of tell by how resolving your system is by how much center fill room space you can hear, on and on. I don't know that's outside of audiophile circles it's more celebrated than Tenor Madness or Saxophone Colossus or Sonny Boy or A Night at the Village Vanguard.
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  14. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    We probably have very different tastes, musically and soncially -- for example, while I love Dave Holland, he's one of my favorite bass players ever and I love his compositions, I've never loved his '80s and following quintet, and I hate the sound of ECM records -- not just his, all of 'em -- post 1980s, I think they're dark and murky and clouded sounding, I really struggle to listen to them, they make all the music sound the same and they sap the music of all its energy, when an album is on ECM I think twice about whether I want to buy it because I know I'm going to have to struggle to listen through the sound to the music. Some of the early ECMs, by contrast, are great sounding to me. So, take my recommendations for what they are -- albums I really love from the '80s (that was the era when I first really went down the jazz rabbit hole so most of this was stuff I was listening to as it was coming out), but which you might not considering our different tastes

    Off the top of my head:

    Billy Bang - Changing Seasons
    Julius Hemphil - Flat Out Jump Suit
    David Murray - Ming
    Joanne Brackeen - Ancient Dynasty
    Muhal Richard Abrams - Mama and Dady
    WSQ - Revue
    Art Ensemble - Urban Bushmen
    Muhal Richard Abrams - Blues Forever
    Paul Motian - Psalm
    David Murray - Home
    David Murray - Murray's Steps
    Blood Ulmer - Odyessy
    Don Pullen - Evidence of Things Unseen
    Paul Motian: The Story Of Maryam
    Ornette Coleman/Pat Methany - Song X
    Henry Threadgill - Just the Facts and Pass the Bucket
    Wynton Marsalis -Black Codes (I'm not much a Marsalis fan, but so much of this material became almost standard that it's important)
    Don Pullen - Sixth Sense
    Henry Threadgill - Slip Easily Into Another World
    Ornette Coleman -In All Languages
    Phalanx - Original Phalanx
    Muhal Richard Abrams - Hearinga Suite
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  15. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    One of the Sonny Rollins’ best audiophile recordings is Our Man In Jazz on RCA.
    It’s a GREAT audiophile disc. Every nuance of details is eerily palpable.
  16. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Let me add a few.



  17. jay.dee

    jay.dee Forum Resident

    Barcelona, Spain
    It's a workmanlike display of the trio's chops, heavy and sweating. For the Rollins' trio in full flight live I turn to their European '59 tour recordings.

    The 3CD euroboot "Live in Europe" is superb.

    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  18. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I meant to put Live at BAM on my list, that's my favorite WSQ album actually. Also, to me, that's one of the greatest sounding live jazz albums ever.
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  19. jay.dee

    jay.dee Forum Resident

    Barcelona, Spain
    And here are some more selections that are among my favourite live recordings from the decade (two per year):

    Art Pepper - Blues for the Fisherman '80
    Phil Woods - European Tour Live '80
    Peter Kowald, Wadada Leo Smith & Günter Sommer - Touch the Earth - Break the Shells '81
    Sam Rivers - Crosscurrent: Live at Jazz Unité '81
    Lester Bowie - Great Pretender: Live at Jazzbühne, Berlin '82
    Pat Metheny - Travels '82
    Graham Collier - Hoarded Dreams '83
    Steve Lacy - Blinks... Zurich - Live '83
    Joëlle Léandre - Les Douze Sons '83
    Mike Westbrook - On Duke's Birthday '84
    Norma Winstone - Live at Roccella Jonica '84
    Joe Henderson - State of the Tenor: Live at the Village Vanguard '85
    Vienna Art Orchestra - A Notion in Perpetual Motion '85
    Billy Bang - Live at Carlos I '86
    Mal Waldron - Seagulls of Kristiansund '86
    Maarten Altena - Rif '87
    Heiner Goebbels & Alfred Harth - Live at Victoriaville '87
    Bobby Bradford & John Carter - Comin' On '88
    Sergey Kuryokhin - Absolutely Great! '88
    Charlie Haden - Montreal Tapes '89
    Horace Tapscott - Dark Tree '89
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  20. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    Thanks for posting that.
  21. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

  22. Six String

    Six String Senior Member

    I really enjoy Zeitland, especially those early Columbia recordings. I have a more recent cd of his dedicated to Waynes Shorter. It's interesting to hear some of those well known classics driven by piano instead of tenor sax.
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  23. Six String

    Six String Senior Member

    I don't think you got beat up at all. It was a provocative statement that created conversation so cudos to you for posting it. It's easier to talk of 80s jazz when you lived it vs searching for it in today's world. So you just got responses of people who were there. I think that's easier than trying to search for 80s jazz albums today.
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  24. Six String

    Six String Senior Member

    WP Anouar Brahem - Blue Maqams (ECM)

    NP Thad Jones - Detroit/New York Junction (Blue Note) Classic Records mono reissue
    One of my favorite Thad Jones albums.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  25. Morbius

    Morbius Forum Resident

    Brookline, MA
    Funny coincidence that you should be talking about this as I picked this up this weekend at my neighborhood Record store. I was contemplating picking up the new Concord Craft Recording version of this but this mastering on this version comes from the original master tape and is mastered by Doug Sax at TML circa 1992. They claim its an all tube signal chain from beginning to end and was pressed in limited numbers at RTI. This pressing is sequence number 0049. Its in very good shape except for some faint crackles and clicks here and there on side two.

    As for the audiophile attributes you alluded to, Sonny appears fully formed to the right of the left speaker and left of dead center with the bass on the right with Ray brown in front of Shelly Manne's drums. The bass playing is very well defined but what is most captivating is the crispness and vividness of the drums and cymbals during Shelly's solos at various points on the album.

    I agree with your sentiments about the creativity on this album and "the out of the box song selection", Rollins' make I'm An Old Cowhand sound like it was written as a jazz piece.


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